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Business Plans: Industry

This guide is designed to help you create a business plan or assess the feasibility of a business idea.

Industry Research

Think broadly and creatively about where your company fits. Some industries are too new or too odd to fit into an established category, you may need to look at multiple industries.

Industry Databases

Industry reports provide general information about the companies that sell the same product or service. Reports generally include information on the largest companies, suppliers, emerging trends, regulatory changes, performance benchmarks, and key business issues.

Trade Associations

Trade associations are often the only place to find current statistics or trends for an industry. Trade associations (also called trade groups, industry groups, business associations, etc.) exist at the local, regional, national, or international level. Many trade associations publish newsletters or journals geared toward the members: practitioners in the industry. Trade journals are very useful for learning the vocabulary of an industry, the key players, and current issues or trends.

Want to find a trade association for your industry? Just Google your industry and the word "association."

These sources provide links to trade publications (the journals from the associations) as well as annual reports:

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An industry classification code can ensure relevant results since many databases allow you to use this code to search the contents. Two codes that are assigned to all US businesses are NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) and its precursor SIC (Standard Industrial Classification).

  • NAICS: North American Industry Classification System
  • SIC: Standard Industrial Classification

If you have trouble finding the right code, you can always look for a similar/competing company in a database such as Reference USA and find the codes there.

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